Pakistan News & Features Services
E L James’s Fifty Shades of Grey has turned out to be the perfect tonic the book trade needed at a critical time.
According to reports, the blend of romance and erotica has helped to drag the book trade out of the doldrums, with new statistics showing that 2011's decline in sales has been reversed and a record amount was spent on books in 2012.
The rise in the book trade's fortunes was driven by digital developments, with total digital sales up by 66% to £411m in 2012, and total fictionebook sales up by 149% to £172m, according to the figures released by the Publishers Association.
The trade body has disclosed that the digital book formats, audiobook downloads, online subscriptions and ebooks, accounted for 12% of the total invoiced value of book sales, up from 8% in 2011 and 5% in 2010. In 2011, print sales fell as digital rose leading to an overall decline in the market of 2% to £3.2bn. In 2012, physical book sales were down by 1%, but the digital success meant the book market grew by 4% overall, reaching a record-breaking £3.3bn.
"The fact is that the vast majority of books sold in the UK are print books. These figures are reassuring, reminding us what we know that people are still buying physical books and that, while obviously the take-up in ebooks has been significant, a lot of it is new custom, rather than replacing physical sales,” Jon Howells at Waterstones observed.
"We said from the beginning that ebooks were giving people another approach to reading, just as they have already got now when they listen to music or watch television," he added.
The recovery was led by the British public's insatiable appetite for erotica, with James's three Fifty Shades titles taking the top three spots in the print chart in 2012, according to figures from Nielsen BookScan.
The first novel in the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, sold 4.46m copies last year, the second sold 3.16m and the third 2.9m. Although there are, as yet, no official ebook charts, Fifty Shades of Grey also topped the Bookseller magazine's analysis of the bestselling ebooks of 2012, selling 1,609,626 copies, according to the magazine.
James' unprecedented success meant she became the first author to be named publishing person of the year by US book trade magazine Publishers Weekly.